François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Méthode Traditionnelle Brut NV
Many of us, I suspect, have a set of personal rules, self-invented laws we aim to abide by for the purposes of self-improvement. The internet is awash with suggestions for you to adhere to; go to bed early, watch less television, exercise regularly, be more positive in your interactions, question yourself, don’t pick on people who drink natural wine, that sort of thing. While I have a decent track record on some of these (although I am perhaps less angelic when it comes to others), one personal rule I have really tried to adhere to over the years is never to feature a non-vintage wine in my Weekend Wine report.
The reasoning is simple enough; with non-vintage wines, it’s often not possible to determine which wine I am writing about (the same could be said of some vintage-dated pétillant wines from the Loire as well, but I must not digress). You could hold a bottle in your hand wearing exactly the same label as the one pictured below and it might be the same wine, or a fundamentally different one. In fact, as many of the wines I write about here have been sitting in my cellar for years, or in some cases decades, it is almost guaranteed that if you bought this wine today, if would not be the same wine I drank this weekend.
So why break the rule now? Several reasons; first, excluding non-vintage wines is perhaps a little unfair when they can be of superb quality, reflecting dedicated work in vineyard and cellar (think, for example, of Jacky Blot’s Triple Zero, which I admit I have featured before now, almost ten years ago). Second, this week sees the publication of a large François Chidaine tasting report, with new notes on 27 wines from François and his daughter Alice, focusing on the 2018 and 2017 vintages, and it felt appropriate to kick of with a wine from François today (even if I did write up the 2017 Baudoin only three weeks ago). Third, it is what I drank this weekend, so I feel beholden to write about it. This is my Weekend Wine slot, isn’t it?
This particular bottle of the non-vintage Montlouis-sur-Loire Méthode Traditionnelle Brut from François Chidaine (note this is not the same as the Brut Nature François makes, which more recently has been vintage-dated but which also used to be non-vintage) has indeed been resting in my cellar for a few years, since at least 2016. I purchased it in the Loire Valley that summer, if I recall correctly. There is a lot number on the back label which is LMMX221113 which looks a little like MMX (2010, the vintage of origin?) followed by a disgorgement date of November 22nd, 2013; given the date of purchase this seems unlikely, so do get in touch if you have any better ideas. The time in my cellar seems to have done it some good, and it is wearing this age rather well. In the glass it has a golden hue, with a touch of onion-skin maturity at its core, and this is matched by a fine and plentiful bead. Aromatically there is also good evolution here, with scents reminiscent of dried citrus fruits and toasted almond, with a touch of ground coffee and crème brûlée on the side. Similarly the palate feels toasted and yet cool, with dried fruits and freshly grilled nuts, not to mention a little black truffle note too. Importantly, it has great substance as well as a vibrant acid backbone keeping it fresh and focused. This is great wine, long and infused with energy and a fresh acid bite, and it is drinking beautifully now. If you have any bottles purchased more recently, don’t be afraid to cellar them for a few years. 94/100 (1/7/19)
Read more in:
- My guide to Chenin Blanc
- My detailed profile of François Chidaine
- My previous report on François Chidaine’s wines tasted in 2018